by Dee Gilles
Disclaimer: For entertainment only.
Benny & Ray 78
Dr. Abbott glided the ultrasound over Francesca Vecchio's slightly rounded abdomen, pressing firmly down as she centered the instrument. She alternated between watching the woman's face light up in amazed fascination, and watching the screen.
She had an x-ray tech; she didn't have to do these ultrasounds personally, but she knew that it reassured her patients, especially the first time mothers, when she attended to the first ultrasound personally. Plus, she enjoyed it. The best part of the job was seeing a woman's face when she saw the tiny speck of life within for the first time.
Ms. Vecchio was just like every other woman in that regard, delighted, curious, and apprehensive all at once. Well, maybe she was a little more...enthusiastic then most women. Okay, maybe she was a little...obsessed.
Ms. Vecchio called her almost every day since Dr. Abbot had confirmed the pregnancy on the first visit, and it was wearing pretty thin already. She had asked her nurse to screen her calls. Not that she didn't like Ms. Vecchio; the young woman was never nasty or rude. She was just...well... neurotic. They spoke many, many times between her first and second visits.
On her second visit, she was accompanied by a stunningly handsome, albeit stiff and uncomfortable-looking man, whom she assumed was her husband. She made the faux-pas of referring to the man, upon meeting him, as `Mr. Vecchio'. The couple both laughed at the unintended joke, and Ms-Miss Vecchio had corrected her to "Fraser".
Dr. Abbott had turned hot with embarrassment, hurriedly checking for her medical file and wondering if she had walked into the wrong examination room. She knew she was getting elderly, but she didn't think her memory was getting so poor that she was getting her patients mixed up. "Oh, I'm sor-ey!" She said. "Ms. Fraser?" She corrected.
"No," Miss Vecchio corrected once more. "He's Fraser. I'm Vecchio."
"I see! I shouldn't assume. Not these days."
Miss Vecchio waved her off. "Don't worry about it."
"Where are you from, Doctor?" the man asked hopefully with a gleam of recognition in his eye.
"Well, I've lived all over the Mid West these past thirty years or so, but I'm originally from St. Albert, Alberta. It's a little town just outside--
"Edmonton, yes, I know of it. I was born and raised in the Northwest Territories!"
"Tuktoyaktuk, Runamukluk, and Alert, mostly."
From there, she and Mr. Fraser had launched into a spirited dialogue for several minutes about their native country before Miss Vecchio cleared her throat rather conspicuously and said, "Excuse me, but can we get back to ME here? The pregnant woman?"
"Sor-ey!" both the Canadians uttered at the same time, to which Miss Vecchio replied shaking her head, "I get it in stereo! What's wrong with you Canucks? Don't they teach good English up there? It's sah-ry!" She precisely emphasized with her right fingers.
"Sor-ey!" they both said again.
With the proverbial ice broken between the doctor and the father-to-be, they settled into a nice rapport during Miss Vecchio's regular visits. He accompanied her each time, and the doctor found herself looking forward to talking with him. Today they spoke for quite a while about the provinces of their homeland before getting down to business.
Miss Vecchio now grabbed her brother-in-law's hand, and squeezed it, staring at the tiny image on the monitor. "Oh my God!" she squealed. "Look!" She squinted. "Looks like an alien," she commented worriedly on further observation.
Dr. Abbott chuckled. "A little, at this stage. But everything's normal. The black area is the fluid of the placenta. And you see the outline of the head, here, and the tummy in profile."
"Oh my--oh my God! What's that? Is that a--
"It's just the bud of a leg."
"Oh. Well, when can you tell the sex?"
"We should know at thirty-eight weeks, in your case, early October. Do you have a preference?" Dr. Abbott smiled at the young woman.
"I'm hoping for a little girl! I mean, I like boys. I could live with that. But my heart wants a little girl!"
"I thought you said you wanted a boy?" Mr. Fraser asked, bemused.
"Oh, that was last week!" she clarified. "Now I want a girl! What cute little clothes girls have! I could just die!"
"What about you, Mr. Fraser?"
The man was captivated by the image on the screen and did not answer her.
"Oh, he wants a boy, of course!" Francesca answered for him. "All men do."
"Ray wants a boy," Mr. Fraser corrected distractedly. "I'd be happy with either."
"Yeah, but you really want a boy, right? Admit it. Someone to `carry on the family name' and all that macho stuff?"
"We haven't even been able to decide what the family name will be yet, Francesca. Since this situation is somewhat unconventional, there are no hard-set rules one way or another. We find ourselves at odds. What do other people do in this situation, Dr. Abbot?"
"I've personally never had a patient in this exact situation. I had two lesbians last year who had babies for their gay friends. In both cases, they took the birth mother's last name. And I've had several patients who have been surrogate mothers for male-female couples, but in none of those cases was the surrogate related to the adopting couple. Personally, I believe children should take their mother's last name, as essentially a child is product of the mother's body, and still, to this day and age, women are still the primary care-givers of children and so a woman deserves that honor."
Dr. Abbott was an old-school feminist and made no apology for it. There had been vast improvements in the last forty years that she'd been practicing, but she still did not believe that women got enough respect, recognition, and reverence; she had a few bras to burn yet.
"Well, I want our child to have Ray's last name," Mr. Fraser declared. "And he wants it to have mine. We've debated several times, most recently last night."
"You could always hyphenate," she pointed out. She squirted a bit more KY jelly on the implement and scanned across Miss Vecchio's abdomen, snapping several photos.
Mr. Fraser sighed. "We have discussed that too, but then it only spawns yet another argument; Fraser-Vecchio or Vecchio-Fraser?"
"Have you consulted with a legal expert?"
"No," they both replied, glancing at one another.
"Do yourself a favor. Get yourself a good family attorney and consult with her."
"Really?" Miss Vecchio asked.
"Really. Mr. Fraser, your life partner is planning to adopt this baby, correct?"
"Well, that's the source of another conundrum, I'm afraid. We don't know if Ray will be Dad or Uncle Ray, and if Francesca will be Mom or Aunt Francesca."
"Mind I give you some advice of a personal nature?"
"Get the attorney. I've seen these situations go sour a couple of times. Trust me; you don't want it to happen to you. For the sake of your child, get everything legalized. And there will be no misunderstanding between the three of you. Okay?"
"You know best, doctor," Miss Vecchio demurred, glancing over at Mr. Fraser.
Dr. Abbott took one final picture just as the baby appeared to hiccup. "Oh, perfect! That's the keeper, right there! I'll get this one developed for you, if you can wait a few minutes?"
"Of course, doctor!" Mr. Fraser said.
Within moments, she met them in her crowded front lobby, picture in hand. The ultrasound snapshot was enclosed in thin black cardstock. The proud father took the photograph from her as though it was an egg, and viewed it again.
She watched them smile again as they gazed at their baby's first photograph, a crude and grainy little chiaroscuro, as though it was a priceless Monet. "Thank you, doctor," Miss Vecchio said. "I'll give you a call tomorrow?"
She sighed softly. "If you must."
"Good-bye, Dr. Abbott. Thank you," Benton Fraser said.
She watched them go, smiling infectiously, before turning away from the closing door to greet her next appointment.
End B&R78: Chiaroscuro by Dee Gilles
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